At Julien’s Auctions yesterday, a baseball signed by Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio was the highest selling Monroe-related lot in the A Southern Gentleman’s Collection event, reaching a maximum $137,500. The military jacket presented to Marilyn in Korea sold for $44,800; and the model release form for her nude calendar session with Tom Kelley (signed as ‘Mona Monroe’), fetched $33,750. Marilyn’s US Department of Defense identification card from the Korea trip, and her secretary May Reis’s address book (including many famous names linked to MM) were both highly coveted items, but failed to meet their reserves. I have now updated all posts on this auction with the final bid amounts – read more here.
84 year-old John Jeter of Alexandria, VA has shared his memories of serving in the Korean War with Town Talk.
“Sitting on his couch, his hands clasped between his knees, John Earl Jeter repeatedly diverts attention from himself to those ‘good men’ he served with during the Korean War.
He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on his 17th birthday. Boot camp had a profound effect on him.
‘The Marine Corps basic training helped me out in life,’ said Jeter. ‘Marine Corps basic training got me straight in life. It got me ready.’
He was still in Korea when the ceasefire was signed on July 27, 1953, at 10 a.m. That didn’t stop hostilities immediately, though.
While he downplays his experiences — ‘A lot of those men, probably right around here, went through hell a lot worse than I did.’ — he does light up when talking about seeing Monroe.
‘That woman had the prettiest laugh,’ said Jeter, who later worked for the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office. ‘That laugh, I can still remember that laugh.'”
Goodman Basil Espy III, M.D. loved purchasing sports and Hollywood memorabilia, so it’s not surprising that Marilyn’s romance with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio – and especially, their tour of Japan and Korea – would be at the heart of his Monroe archive, as we discover in this third post about the November 14 auction at Julien’s, A Southern Gentleman’s Collection. And first up, this ‘Official American League Ball‘ is signed in blue ballpoint ink ‘Marilyn Monroe’ – but not in the sweet spot! (You can read all posts about this sale here.)
“A set of two travel alarm clocks; the first beige metal with a ribbed plastic retractable cover by Westclox; the second brass with a red face by Tiffany & Co., engraved on the bottom ‘Marilyn Monroe;’ interestingly, MM was shot in a series of black and white photographs by Bob Beerman circa 1953 where the Westclox piece can be seen on her bedside table.”SOLD for $7,500
Following a two-year courtship, Marilyn and Joe were married in January 1954. Weeks later, they went on a ‘honeymoon‘ of sorts, as Joe promoted baseball in Japan. These four photos show the couple en route, and after their arrival in Tokyo. And sold separately, “a traditional Japanese fan likely made of bamboo and painted black with a natural wood handle … according to a catalogue description from Christie’s where it was originally sold, ‘…Joe immediately purchased this small memento for his one true love’ apparently on ‘February 2, 1954.'”Photos SOLD for $896; fan SOLD for $2,560
“A standard United States Department of Defense identification card issued to Marilyn, featuring a small black and white photograph of her in the upper left corner, text reads in part ‘DiMaggio, Norma Jeane,’ photograph is dated ‘4 Feb 54,’ card is dated ‘8 Feb. 1954,’ signed by Monroe in blue ballpoint ink on the lower margin ‘Norma Jeane DiMaggio,’ further black fountain pen ink annotations of the issuing officer appear below, verso displays Monroe’s finger prints next to her typed statistics reading ‘Height 5′ 5 1/2″ / Weight 118 / Color of Hair Blonde / Color of Eyes Blue / Religion None / Blood Type UNK / Date of Birth 1 June 26,’ laminated. Monroe visited Japan and then Korea while on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in February of 1954, and she was given this ‘Noncombatant’s Certificate of Identity’ so she could perform for the American troops while there.”UNSOLD – reserve not met
A group of three snapshots, all taken in February 1954 when Marilyn was performing for the US troops in Korea; the first shows MM from the back as she walks by; the other two show a cake the soldiers presented to her (though she’s not in the shots). And sold separately, a strip of paper with a soldier’s name and other information on it, signed in blue ballpoint ink ‘Marilyn Monroe.'”Photos SOLD for $320; autograph SOLD for $2,240
“A single sheet of paper, typed with notes about Marilyn’s Korean tour that appears to be for photo captions or perhaps an interview, heavily annotated in pencil in Monroe’s hand where she revises or edits the typed text, ending with ‘I knew it was raining – but I somehow didn’t / feel it – all I could think was I hoped / they weren’t getting too wet / Korea – / an experience I’ll never forget.'”SOLD for $3,200
“A standard issue military jacket made of olive green wool, long sleeves, two front flap pockets, six button front closure, stamped on inside lining in part ‘Medium,’ adorned with countless Army-related patches, insignia, and lapel pins, further patch sewn above left pocket with white stitching reads ‘Monroe;’ presented to the star by a VIP soldier when she famously visited the troops in February 1954 while on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio; the jacket is displayed within a shadow box along with two black and white images [sold separately, here]: one shows MM receiving the folded-up jacket from a soldier named McGarr; the other shows MM with McGarr and Jean O’Doul [wife of baseball great, Lefty O’Doul] wearing the jacket.Jacket SOLD for $44,800; photos SOLD for $768
“A single page of stationery printed with an ‘M,’ penned in blue ballpoint ink, no date, to ‘Jimmy,’ reading in part ‘I was so happy you met us / at the airport and I got to see you / again – your [sic] one of my favorite / people you know,’ ending with ‘Have a Happy Birthday and a / wonderful time / Marilyn’ — Jimmy being James ‘Lefty’ O’Doul, professional baseball player and later a manager and mentor to Joe DiMaggio; included with its original envelope addressed to ‘Mr. Jimmy Gold O’doul [sic] / Personal.’ And sold separately, four photos taken in Korea; three depict Marilyn with others as she wears her fitted checkered dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953); one depicts Jean O’Doul [wife of baseball great Lefty O’Doul] and a soldier; versos of all display various handwritten annotations in pencil and fountain pen ink including the date of ’27/2/54.'”Letter SOLD for $6,400; photos SOLD for $1,250
Original photo, though now creased and wrinkled, depicting Marilyn in a living room with four other females circa 1954, a black ballpoint ink annotation handwritten on the verso reads ‘This is the interior / of the house in / Beverly Hills. It was / rented by Joe;’ also included are three other snapshots from the same day but printed decades later.”SOLD for $768
“A small clutch-style purse, made of beige raw silk, gold-tone metal frame with rhinestone closure, zipper on bottom opens to reveal another compartment, inside lined in tan-colored silk, label reads ‘Saks Fifth Avenue,’ additional studio label reads ‘1-6-3-1667 M. Monroe A-729; used by Marilyn as ‘Vicky Parker’ in an extended sequence with Donald O’Connor as ‘Tim Donahue’ in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954.)”SOLD for $15,625
“A standard playbill for The Teahouse of the August Moon signed in blue fountain pen ink on the top margin of the cover by Marilyn and in turquoise fountain pen ink on the side margin of the cover by Joe DiMaggio.” [The play starred David Wayne, who had appeared with Marilyn in four films, including How to Marry a Millionaire. She would see the play again after moving to New York, when her Actors’ Studio buddy Eli Wallach joined the cast.]SOLD for $5,670
“A group of four telegrams, variously dated in December 1954, to the star and her lawyer [Frank Delaney] from an executive at 20th Century Fox, outlining how Marilyn needs to fulfill her obligation to The Seven Year Itch even though she’s sick; funny documents showing how Marilyn was being Marilyn and the studio had to acquiesce because she was…Marilyn. And sold separately, a contact sheet depicting 12 images of Marilyn wearing a white fur stole as she stands next to Itch director Billy Wilder in 1954, mounted to cardboard, signed in black felt-tip ink in the lower right corner ‘for Billy Wilder from Dick Avedon / 67.'”Telegrams SOLD for $1,024; contact sheet SOLD for $3,200
“A small piece of paper with the top and bottom portions torn off, one side has penciled questions written in another hand, likely that of Ben Hecht or Sidney Skolsky [as both men who helped Marilyn to write her 1954 memoir, My Story, which wasn’t published until 1974], reading in full ‘Think about / 1) anecdote about pics / working on / 2) about Johnny Hyde – / how helped you – gave courage,’ rest of page and other side have Monroe’s blue fountain pen ink responses, with one compelling part reading ‘for those who want to / judge – I’ve traded my (paper purposely torn off here but evidently ‘body’) / more than once / for shelter and small quantities / of understanding and / warmth. I never traded for money / or a job directly or anything (one) could see / with the naked eye / except from one man / who was also deeply lonely…’ and it ends there on that cliffhanger!”SOLD for $7,500
This is my final post before tomorrow’s sale at Julien’s, Property From The Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe. (You can read all my posts on the auction here.)
“A page likely removed from a magazine and then glued to a piece of black construction paper, depicting MM posing by the ocean, signed in blue fountain pen ink on the left side ‘To Linda, / Love and Kisses, / Marilyn Monroe’ — Linda being child actress Linda Bennett who had the star sign a number of items for her.”
SOLD for $4,480
“A vintage fan magazine, and (sold separately) a three-page handwritten letter from a fan by the name of Irene Nagy, in which Nagy offers advice to Marilyn Monroe on how to become a serious actress. The letter, dated November 18, 1952, reads in part, ‘If you’re going to be a dramatic actress and hope to be one, you certainly can’t expect to wear frilly thin nighties or low cut gowns all the time.’ While criticism is offered based on the clothing Monroe wears, the fan also offers encouragement and support: ‘I like you also as a person. I love to see you with your blonde short curly hair-do, you’re very pretty, you’ve got pretty eyes and when you laugh whole-heartedly you sound like lots of fun.’ Overall, a very interesting look into the type of mail Monroe received from fans. The original envelope is also included.”
Pin-Ups magazine SOLD for $1,920; fan letter SOLD for $125
“A framed photo of Marilyn visiting Brady Airbase, Japan; and sold separately, a three-page handwritten letter from the mother of a United States soldier stationed in Korea who had recently seen Marilyn Monroe perform for the troops there as part of a USO tour. The February 25, 1954, letter reads, ‘This morning I received a letter from my son in Korea. I think you should know what he says about your appearance there. I save all of his letters, or I would enclose it. This is what he wrote. Two days ago, Marilyn Monroe played before 12,000 men of this division. It was a sunny, cold day but true to the standards that have been set for her, she appeared in a low cut, sheathe dress of purple glittery sort of material. She is certainly beautiful!!! When she appeared on the stage, there was just a sort of gasp from the audience – a single gasp multiplied by the 12,000 soldiers present, what quite a gasp. The broadcasting system was extremely poor, and had I not seen the movie from which the songs were taken, I’m not too sure I would have known what she was singing. However, it didn’t matter. Had she only walked out on the stage and smiled, it would have been enough. I might add, that she is certainly making a lot of friends here. Everyone realizes that there is no reason she is here except to entertain. She doesn’t need the publicity, and she is not being paid. Too, unlike lesser entertainers, after the show she autographed, chatted, and posed for pictures. Then thru all the trucks and jeeps she rode perched on top of the seat of her jeep, smiling and waving. All in all I think it was pretty wonderful that she came to Korea at all, and doubly so that she came to the divisions that have been so long on the line, and by-passed the easy duty in Seoul, Inchon and the southern cities. You are a real soldier. I know what that trip cost you. But you didn’t disappoint those boys. In our hearts we thank you for your wonderful generosity and kindness to our son. Your friends, Mr. and Mrs. N. T. Rupe, 6315 So Yakima, Tacoma, Wash.'”
Photos SOLD for $896; letter SOLD for $448.
A group of 4 candid photos, showing Marilyn on top of a military tank with soldiers surrounding her during her 1954 tour of Korea for American troops.
SOLD for $448
A group of six colour slides and corresponding photographs of Marilyn Monroe in Korea. Copyrights to these images will be transferred to the winning bidder.
SOLD for $1,562.50
A framed photo of Marilyn; and, sold separately, a two-page document on plain white paper, no date but circa 1955, penned in blue ballpoint ink, ‘To the Men of the Thule Air Base / Greenland,’ apologizing to them for not being able to visit, signed on the second page ‘I love you all / Happy New Year / Marilyn Monroe.'”
Photo SOLD for $1, 024; letter SOLD for $7,500
“A negative image of Marilyn Monroe taken while the actress signed an autograph book for a fan in New York City circa 1955. Together with a black and white photograph printed from the negative, believed to have been previously unpublished.”
SOLD for $576
“A typed letter from Shirley Potash Clurman from TIME Incorporated regarding Marilyn Monroe’s appearance at ‘the official kickoff for the opening of the Sidewalk Superintendents Club for the construction of the new Time-Life Building.’ The June 20, 1957, letter reads in part, ‘Marilyn Monroe, naturally, was the unanimous favorite of Time-Life staffers to officially get our new building rolling by setting off a facsimile fire-cracker.’ The letter continues, ‘As I told you, our company plane would be delighted to pick up Miss Monroe wherever she is out of town and deliver her home again.’ Monroe did appear at this event on July 2, 1957, and she did light the aforementioned firecracker.”
SOLD for $256
“A handwritten letter from actress Julie Harris. The December 2, 1957, letter reads, ‘Dear Miss Monroe, Through the kindness of Joe Wolhandler we sent you, Manning Gurian and I, Julie Harris, a play, The Warm Peninsula. Well, it’s as simple as that! We hoped you would love it and would want to play the part of June de Lynn. If you are at all interested and would like to talk to us about it we would be overjoyed. We asked you – with a faint hope in our hearts – knowing how busy you are – but if you are at all interested please let us know. With all good wishes, Julie Harris.’ A carbon copy of the letter sent in response, dated December 4, 1957, reads, ‘After receiving your note I called my agent, Mort Viner, At MCA. Unfortunately, through some mix-up at their office the script had never been delivered to me. However, I now have it, and I’m reading it. I’m a slow reader, but I’ll let you know as soon as I finish. Please accept my apologies for such a delay.’ The letter’s signature line reads ‘Warm Regards.'”
SOLD for $384
“An undated typed letter on ‘Who’s Who of American Women‘ letterhead referencing Marilyn Monroe’s listing in the 1958 publication. The letter reads in part, ‘Active compilation of the First Edition of the newest Marquis reference work, WHO’S WHO OF AMERICAN WOMEN, is now under way’ and ‘I enclose – for what additions you wish to make – the sketch of you just prepared for the new “Who’s Who in America,” in which you are of course also being listed.’ A carbon copy of a letter from Monroe’s secretary, dated December 4, 1957, reads in part, ‘Enclosed herewith is the sketch of Marilyn Monroe to be inserted in the next edition of Who’s Who in America. Please make the following corrections: The name in parenthesis should be Norma Jean Mortenson. The name of her first husband is Jim Daugherty [sic], her second Joe DiMaggio, from both of whom she was divorced. She is now married to Arthur Miller. The title The Sleeping Prince should be eliminated inasmuch as that is the name of a stage play in which Miss Monroe did not appear.’ Also included is a pre-publication order form for Who’s Who of American Women.”
SOLD for $256
“A six page document, dated ‘Feb. 7, 1958,’ outlining an agreement the star had with MCA Artists, Ltd. for that organization to act as her agent for television work, signed in blue fountain pen ink on the last page ‘Marilyn Monroe.'”SOLD for $3,750
“A one-page letter to Marilyn Monroe from Private First Class Don L. Miller of the United States Army. The May 16, 1958, letter reads in part, ‘On 24 April at three p.m. I called at your New York apartment, hoping you could spare five minutes then or could possibly arrange an appointment for the following day. It took two weeks of my leave before I was able to find out your New York address, which left but two days before I had to return to active duty here in Texas. Please forgive the delay, which I surely caused in your appointment with Mrs. [Hedda] Hopper. After following your screen career closely since its birth as the chorus girl-daughter of Adele Jergens many years ago [in Ladies of the Chorus, 1948] it has been somewhat of a project of mine to meet you. It was disappointing to be close enough to hear your voice yet still have the first encounter to anticipate.'”SOLD for $192
“A group of four letters related to possible acting roles for Marilyn Monroe. One letter, dated May 26, 1958, is from Jerry Webb, former test director at Twentieth Century-Fox. Webb proposes to Monroe a project titled Papa Married a Mormon and suggests that Monroe play the role of ‘Tena.’ Another letter, dated February 24, 1959, is from George Cayley, who sent Monroe a script for The First Chewinks and suggested it would start on Broadway that spring. The third letter, dated March 11, 1957, is from Tony Award winning Broadway producer Edward Padula, who suggests that Monroe consider Lie Down in Darkness, the novel by William Styron, ‘both for its theatrical and motion picture possibilities.’ The fourth letter, dated August 12, 1958, is from Julian Olney asking if Monroe would be interested in playing Nell Gwynn in a new stage production of In Good King Charles’ Golden Days by George Bernard Shaw. “SOLD for $384
A signed George Barris photo; and, sold separately, a handwritten letter to Marilyn Monroe from a fan by the name of William Perez. The heartfelt letter reads, ‘I would appreciate it so very much if you would kindly autograph this picture I had the pleasure of taking a few years back when you were filming Seven Year Itch in New York [not included here]. If you’ll address it to Bill, and leave it in your lobby I will pick it up in a few days. I work right around the corner and have spent so many lunch hours and coffee breaks in front of your building hoping to see you that I’ve become a laughing stock in my office. I don’t mind it, because you’ve given me so many hours of pleasure in your movies. Your [sic] my favorite star, and I hope you’ll continue to make more and more movies.’ This February 10, 1959, letter is signed ‘Thank you so much for your patience and understanding. Sincerely, William Perez.'”Photo SOLD for $1,250; letter SOLD for $192
“An October 11, 1961, memo to Marilyn Monroe’s attorney Aaron Frosch from Howard O. LeShaw regarding balance sheets for Monroe and for Marilyn Monroe Productions. The statements clarify Monroe’s cash on hand, together with receivables and liabilities. As of October 10, 1961, Monroe’s net worth, according to these statements, was $716,791.74, an astonishing amount of money for the time. Also included is a one-page Schedule L balance sheet for ‘Year Ended November 30, 1960.’ Five pages total.”SOLD for $768
“A two-page handwritten letter dated May 29, 1962, from Blanche Neubardt, Arthur Miller’s aunt. The letter reads in part, ‘Happy birthday to you! We wish you many, many more happy birthdays. We saw Dad Sunday and of course you were the topic of conversation. Dad told us you were having a birthday.’ ‘Dad’ in this case is Isidore Miller, Arthur Miller’s father. Marilyn often referred to him as ‘Dad,’ and he even signed his letters to her that way. Sadly, this would be Monroe’s final birthday as she would pass away in the coming August. The letter continues, ‘We want to thank you for the perfectly wonderful time we had at the President’s birthday. And you made all this possible. It is something we shall never forget, and we are thrilled that you thought of us. We loved your performance, it was delightful, and I’m sure the President never had anyone sweeter sing Happy Birthday to him. Your gown was magnificent. You looked like a dream walking.’ The letter is signed, ‘Keep well and stay as sweet as you are. Love, Blanche and Sam.’ Records from Monroe’s archives show that she purchased five tickets to the JFK birthday gala held on May 19, 1962. It is documented that Monroe’s date was her former father-in-law, Isidore Miller. Publicist Pat Newcomb also accompanied Monroe to the event. However, it has never been known for whom the other two tickets were purchased. This letter indicates that Monroe likely bought them for Samuel and Blanche Neubardt, who lived at 550 East 21st Street in Brooklyn. Photos of the July 1 Monroe/Miller wedding published in the July 16, 1956, issue of LIFE magazine show that Blanche was present for the nuptials. The original envelope, addressed to Monroe at her Fifth Helena Drive home in Brentwood, California, is included.”SOLD for $1,280
Marilyn and Me, Ji-Min Lee’s novel set in Korea, is now available in the US under a different title: The Starlet and the Spy. As any classic film buff will tell you, a starlet is an aspiring actress and by 1954, Marilyn was a global megastar. However, it’s a worthwhile read. Marilyn’s part in it is actually quite small, as the main character is her (fictitious) translator, a young woman confronting the trauma of war. I struggled to relate to her story – at times, it felt more like an outline for a movie – but it was interesting to revisit the conflict from an insider’s perspective, and Lee writes about Marilyn with care and imagination.
Michelle Morgan’s latest, The Little Book of Marilyn, is now available and has been getting rave reviews from fans. It’s packed with well-chosen photos which aren’t often seen in print, plus chapters on why Marilyn continues to inspire, hair and make-up tutorials, fashion tips, and craft ideas.
Another tempting summer read is Ji-Min Lee’s Marilyn and Me, a novel set during Marilyn’s time in Korea. It’s next on my reading list, and hope to review both books at a later date.
Of related interest is Gravité Sur Billy Wilder, Emmanuel Burdeau’s French-language study of (arguably) Marilyn’s greatest director.
Coming in September, John William Law’s Goddess & the Girl Next Door compares Marilyn and that other fifties blonde, Doris Day. It’s a timely publication, arriving so soon after Ms Day’s passing (you can read my tribute to her here.)
And finally (for now), Biographic: Marilyn retells her story in infographics, coming in October from artist and author Katy Greenwood.
A final post (for now) on the Julien’s Legends series, in advance of the auction on June 13-14. As well as Marilyn’s bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (see here) her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) is also on offer. She wore it to perform ‘Oh, What A Forward Young Man You Are’ with Dan Dailey and her fellow chorines.
As well as an archive of material by Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner (see here), several other photographers are also represented.
UPDATE: I have now added the final bids for each item.
“A group of seven color slides, all showing Marilyn performing for U.S. troops in Korea in 1954. Four slides show Monroe wearing a purple spaghetti-strapped dress on stage, three show her wearing a bomber jacket and pants in the camp, and one has a further handwritten annotation in black fountain pen ink reading in part ‘6 Feb 54 – A little/ closer this time.'” (SOLD for $448)
Despite her glamorous appearance, Marilyn required no special treatment during her 1954 military tour of Korea. Nonetheless, U.S. troops did their utmost to make their special guest comfortable throughout her stay, as this amusing tale from the Reading Eagle reveals.
“When Marilyn Monroe visited American troops in Korea in 1954, Arthur ‘Kip’ Bowers of Blandon was tasked with providing the movie star a key necessity.
‘I’m the only carpenter in the United States that built Marilyn Monroe an outside toilet,’ Bowers said. ‘She needed her own private toilet. We had no facilities and I’m a damn good carpenter.’
Bowers, 87, told that story Thursday immediately after receiving the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal at the Paul R. Gordon Veteran Social Center in Reading, PA.
Bowers used his job as an Army military police officer to get the wood by setting up a speed trap and stopping Army vehicles.
‘Every guy that was carrying water I stopped if he was over 50 miles an hour,’ Bowers explained. ‘And I said we can do this two ways … I was as straight a cop as could be, but in this case, I needed lumber … I said we can take one of your stripes or you can bring me a load of lumber. Every one of them brought me a load of lumber.’
After the latrine was built, there was a lot of wood left over and Bowers’ skills were proved. He was moved from MP to carpenter for the rest of his service.”
UPDATE: Another memory from Bowers is quoted on the WFMZ website. “She came to put on a show,” he told fellow veterans. “She swung her hip two feet this way and hit me on the head, and then she swung two feet the other way and hit my buddy.”